- In early 2023, the share of postings mentioning a four-day work week were almost 50% higher than the relatively stable trend from January 2018 to June 2021.
- Postings mentioning a four-day work week were largely concentrated in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. These have also been the regions driving growth in recent years.
- In 2022, the share of Australian searches on Indeed mentioning a four-day work week was twice as high as it was three years earlier, albeit off fairly low search volumes.
Work-life balance and workplace flexibility emerged as leading issues for Australian workers during the pandemic, and recent trials suggest a four-day work week might warrant some serious discussion in offices, factories and worksites nationwide.
In fact, both employers and employees in Australia are already showing heightened interest in a four-day work week, with the share of both job postings and jobseeker searches referencing the shorter work week up considerably on pre-pandemic levels. Recently, the first Australian employer announced a four-day working week at full-time pay following union negotiations.
Still, any widespread shift to a four-day work week is clearly in its infancy. In February, just 0.5% of Australian job postings explicitly referenced a four-day work week in their job descriptions and less than one-hundredth of 1% of all job searches in 2022 explicitly sought a four-day week.
Postings mentioning a four-day work week are up around 50% in February, compared to the longer-term trend, with growth concentrated in Australia’s most populous east coast states. Growth is apparent across the income distribution, pacing a little faster in higher-income roles. And the share of searches from Australian job seekers actively seeking four-day weeks doubled last year compared to 2019 levels.
This analysis won’t directly measure whether employers have embraced the four-day work week, but it does provide useful insight into how employer attitudes regarding flexibility and work-life balance are changing.
Postings mentioning four-days have grown considerably
Australia’s post-pandemic recovery has been marked by incredible labour demand from employers, as well as concerns over mental health and burnout among workers. Under the circumstances, it makes sense that some employers may be willing to offer greater flexibility to attract staff and that workers would be willing to work fewer days to improve their work-life balance.
In February, 0.5% of job postings on Indeed’s Australia website explicitly mentioned phrases such as ‘four day work week’ or ‘four days per week’ in their job descriptions, up roughly 50% from the longer-term, January 2018 to June 2021 average. The frequency of jobs mentioning a four-day working week first spiked in late 2021, in line with the lifting of economic restrictions in Sydney and Melbourne that marked the pandemic’s end (from an economic perspective).
The increase in postings mentioning a four-day work week has been concentrated among the populous east-coast states. In 2022, the share of jobs mentioning four-day work weeks was around 50% higher in Queensland, 40% higher in New South Wales and 36% higher in Victoria than it was three years earlier. A modest increase was observed in South Australia, with both Western Australia and Tasmania unchanged.
Veterinary, dental and legal postings mention a four-day work week the most
Perhaps surprisingly, mentions of a four-day work week are not concentrated in occupations where casual or part-time work is most common. In 2022, 2.4% of postings for veterinary roles mentioned a four-day work week, ahead of 2.1% for dental and 1.7% for legal opportunities. By comparison, just 0.4% of postings for hospitality & tourism and 0.2% for retail mention a four-day work week.
The largest increase over the past three years in jobs advertising four-day weeks was for legal roles, followed by media & communications and manufacturing & production.
These findings could partly reflect expectations among jobseekers. Part-time or casual hours are more common in industries like hospitality and retail. Consequently, employers in those sectors might not be expected to explicitly mention shorter work weeks in the same way as a law firm or dental office.
While mentions of a four-day work week are highest among lower-paid jobs, reflecting the greater concentration of part-time and casual work across these roles, it has increased the fastest among high-wage occupations.
In 2022, the share of high-wage postings mentioning a four-day work week was 50% higher than three years earlier. In 2019, a low-wage posting was 40% more likely than a high-wage posting to offer a four-day working week—by last year, that gap had narrowed to just 13%. The increase observed for higher-paying roles does point towards a shift in the hiring philosophy of businesses operating in these sectors and a greater awareness of work-life balance and staff burnout.
There is growing interest from jobseekers
Direct searches for a four-day work week are not high—accounting for less than one-hundredth of a percent—but they have doubled over the past three years. To find these jobs, jobseekers likely prefer searching for part-time, casual or even flexible work rather than searching for a specific number of days.
Recent trials suggest that a four-day work week might be beneficial
A recent global trial featuring almost 1,000 employees across 33 different countries found that a four-day work week, which involves ‘fewer days for the same pay,’ resulted in higher revenue for participating firms, fewer employee sick days and improved employee mental health. Participating companies rated the experience highly and virtually all workers that participated in the trial (97%) said they wanted it to continue.
Almost a third of workers involved in the trial reported reduced stress and two-thirds reported less burnout compared to the pre-trial baseline. Meanwhile, 61% of respondents reported improved work-life balance. For companies, revenue increased 38% during the six-month trial, compared to the same period a year earlier. Both hiring and resignation rates were unaffected.
The ongoing discussion around a four-day work week and ‘fewer days for the same pay’ has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of work in Australia. If trials like these gain traction and Australian businesses begin implementing similar ‘fewer days for the same pay’ programmes, then we’d expect explicit jobseeker searches for these amenities to increase considerably.
In the meantime, workplace flexibility and work-life balance will continue to be key issues for employers and workers alike. While getting ‘fewer days for the same pay’ might not be widely possible right now, there is clearly increased interest in jobs that can offer a better balance and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Four-day job postings are defined as those that include terms like “4 days per week,” “four day work week,” or “4-days a week” in their job description. Search data was based on how often these same terms were used by jobseekers when searching for a job.
Classifications such as low or high wage job postings are determined by ordering each occupational category from highest to lowest wage based on wages published on Indeed in 2019.